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Thread: 25 Years of the Omega X-33 in Space

  1. #1
    Grand Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    25 Years of the Omega X-33 in Space

    On 22 February 1996, Swiss ESA Astronaut Claude Nicollier was launched skyward onboard Space Shuttle Columbia STS-75 with a prototype Omega X-33 strapped to his wrist. Over the next couple of years these evolved into the space fight qualified X-33 Speedmaster and became an essential tool watch for space explorers. A quarter of a century and two iterations later it still is, there will be several on orbit right now.

    These four are a bit closer to home.




    Claude Nicollier, aboard STS-75






    24 March 2008, STS-123 crew onboard the International Space Station posing for some in-space portraits, all wearing X-33 Speedmasters.




    The first prototypes of the X-33 were actually branded as flightmaster and featured a Seamaster style bracelet.

    Last edited by Mr Curta; 22nd February 2021 at 20:49.
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    Master MartynJC (UK)'s Avatar
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    Thanks. A true tool watch in every sense. I have sold and re- bought too many. Luckily I have one that I hope I have the sense to keep.





    I took this screen shot of the recent launch - showing the X-33 MK2 is still in use for modern space programs.



    My version


  3. #3
    Master Caruso's Avatar
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    I'd love to upgrade mine to a MkII.

  4. #4
    Thanks for posting. All very interesting. My Mk1 from 98 albeit with a new movement.




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  5. #5
    Craftsman
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    I've had mine virtually since they were released and it's an excellent companion to my Moonwatch. I do wish they'd do a reissue of the original straps which are long-gone as I've tried many others but still prefer the looks of the black and red originals. I've also never understood why the bezel is polished as it's so out of keeping with the titanium case and tool-watch positioning. Still, an absolute favourite of mine.

  6. #6
    Grand Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MartynJC (UK) View Post
    I took this screen shot of the recent launch - showing the X-33 MK2 is still in use for modern space programs.
    It is great to see the pre-Skywalker version still in use!


    Quote Originally Posted by astonandy View Post
    I've had mine virtually since they were released and it's an excellent companion to my Moonwatch. I do wish they'd do a reissue of the original straps which are long-gone as I've tried many others but still prefer the looks of the black and red originals.
    I'd love an original strap. I tend to have the Gen1 on a GasGasBones velcro or Kevlar. The bracelet has gone to a better home.


    Quote Originally Posted by astonandy View Post
    I've also never understood why the bezel is polished as it's so out of keeping with the titanium case and tool-watch positioning. Still, an absolute favourite of mine.
    I guess that might be a reason for the Gen2 bezel not being polished. I rather like the rocket rather than the lume pip at 12 (something returned to for the Gen3) and the polish does provide for some cool reflections

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  7. #7
    Master Sinnlover's Avatar
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    I remember seeing these in shop windows in the early 2000s, they could not give them away, (the AD on High Street Kensington had one of these and a Tintin in the window for over a year) I always thought they were really cool but could not afford one as a kid, - I bought a reduced speedy as it was the cheapest option - I had a poverty stricken childhood...

    I have never seen the early version with the circular buttons in the metal, I presume they were not in production long? Being a flightmaster fan I would like to find one labelled as such. I also have a hankering for the modern Z33 but I think these are now out of production.

  8. #8
    I'll take a photo of the 1998 price list that I have at home later. Just short of 2K in 1998 was alot of money so little surprise they didn't fly out of the window. In contrast I paid £936 for my 2254 from the AD in 2004.

  9. #9
    Grand Master Saint-Just's Avatar
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    Mine today:



    (yes, I know, the Erika could be 1mm wider...)
    'Against stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain' - Schiller.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinnlover View Post
    I remember seeing these in shop windows in the early 2000s, they could not give them away, (the AD on High Street Kensington had one of these and a Tintin in the window for over a year) I always thought they were really cool but could not afford one as a kid, - I bought a reduced speedy as it was the cheapest option - I had a poverty stricken childhood...

    I have never seen the early version with the circular buttons in the metal, I presume they were not in production long? Being a flightmaster fan I would like to find one labelled as such. I also have a hankering for the modern Z33 but I think these are now out of production.
    I had the Z33 hankering too until I tried one. I am a big bloke but it was ludicrous on my wrist - not comically large like a Jacob and Co rapper special but just like having a matchbox on strap under (well actually not under) my cuff. A weird shape and one I would destroy in a month banging into things I suspect.

  11. #11
    Master Sinnlover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astonandy View Post
    I had the Z33 hankering too until I tried one. I am a big bloke but it was ludicrous on my wrist - not comically large like a Jacob and Co rapper special but just like having a matchbox on strap under (well actually not under) my cuff. A weird shape and one I would destroy in a month banging into things I suspect.
    They are very tall, I am reasonably big bloke and wear large watches often (up to 47mm across) the diameter would not pose a problem, its the height!!!

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by astonandy View Post
    I've had mine virtually since they were released and it's an excellent companion to my Moonwatch. I do wish they'd do a reissue of the original straps which are long-gone as I've tried many others but still prefer the looks of the black and red originals. I've also never understood why the bezel is polished as it's so out of keeping with the titanium case and tool-watch positioning. Still, an absolute favourite of mine.
    I think they can still be ordered from Omega.

    The original black coramide is 98000006 (standard) or 98000006L (long)
    Brushed buckle is 9451-1803

    The red kevlar strap is 98000071 and 98000071L

    A 98000006 is for sale here -

    https://www.swisswatchspares.com/pro...e-buckle-strap

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mylofitz View Post
    I think they can still be ordered from Omega.

    The original black coramide is 98000006 (standard) or 98000006L (long)
    Brushed buckle is 9451-1803

    The red kevlar strap is 98000071 and 98000071L

    A 98000006 is for sale here -

    https://www.swisswatchspares.com/pro...e-buckle-strap
    I admit it's been a while since I asked but when I went into the Omega Boutique in Bond Street and asked about replacements I was told they were no longer made. The red kevlar was my favourite but the cormide did have a nice shape.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by astonandy View Post
    I admit it's been a while since I asked but when I went into the Omega Boutique in Bond Street and asked about replacements I was told they were no longer made. The red kevlar was my favourite but the cormide did have a nice shape.
    I have the black coramide on deployant it really suits the x33.

  15. #15
    I enjoy my Skywalker much more than I ever thought I would for a quartz watch!






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    Right then, you're on the desert island with the four of them but all the batteries have run out. Unfortunately the lovely Sue Lawley (yes I know, it's been quite a while since I was a regular listener) only allowed you to bring just a single replacement battery. Which one will you bring back to life? (And why?)

    Cracking collection by the way.

  17. #17
    Grand Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by petethegeek View Post
    Right then, you're on the desert island with the four of them but all the batteries have run out. Unfortunately the lovely Sue Lawley (yes I know, it's been quite a while since I was a regular listener) only allowed you to bring just a single replacement battery. Which one will you bring back to life? (And why?)

    Cracking collection by the way.
    You are only allowed one luxury item.




    Okay, if pushed...

    Like that Curta, it would also be the second iteration. The dimensions suit me marginally better than the larger Skywalker and I love the curved LCD with full backlight. It has that fabulous unique crown, brushed pushers that go so well with the titanium case, and the 'flight qualified' inscription that the first generation doesn't have.

    Last edited by Mr Curta; 24th February 2021 at 03:21.
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  18. #18
    Grand Master Saint-Just's Avatar
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    And just as I took it out of the box to wear today, the seconds hand is now jumping every 5 seconds, thus letting me know that it's time for a new battery
    'Against stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain' - Schiller.

  19. #19
    Master petethegeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    Okay, if pushed...
    Thank you Mr C, very enlightening. I did try to guess in advance, but found it impossible to decide which it would be.

    On the odd occasions that a Solar Impulse has appeared on SC I have been sorely tempted. I know they're probably not for the purist, however they also don't present such an obvious temptation to build up a 'full set'.

  20. #20
    Grand Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    And just as I took it out of the box to wear today, the seconds hand is now jumping every 5 seconds, thus letting me know that it's time for a new battery
    I've heard that the lovely Sue Lawley can give you one.
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  21. #21
    Grand Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by petethegeek View Post
    Thank you Mr C, very enlightening. I did try to guess in advance, but found it impossible to decide which it would be.

    On the odd occasions that a Solar Impulse has appeared on SC I have been sorely tempted. I know they're probably not for the purist, however they also don't present such an obvious temptation to build up a 'full set'.
    The Solar Impulse comes a very close second indeed. I'll be fashioning a screwdriver out of palm fronds so that I can swap the battery into it occasionally.

    Prof. Claude Nicollier who was involved in the development of the X-33 and took the prototype into orbit 25 years ago has been a member of the Board of Directors of Swatch Group since 2005 and has his fingerprints all over the Solar Impulse Project. He led the Flight Test Team and designed the "Omega Instrument" aircraft flight panel which included remote vibrating sleeve units to keep the pilots alert to important information during the epic journey.

    Omega also provided the landing light system and technology for a number of the solar energy systems.




    SI-Pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg


    Interestingly, my Skywalker is 'Tested and Certified by ESA' whilst the Solar Impulse is 'Tested and Qualified by ESA'.

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  22. #22
    Grand Master Saint-Just's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    I've heard that the lovely Sue Lawley can give you one.
    I know that beggars can’t be choosers but I prefer my innuendo a little younger.

    Is there such a thing as a titanium screwdriver to avoid damaging the back ?
    'Against stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain' - Schiller.

  23. #23
    Grand Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    Is there such a thing as a titanium screwdriver to avoid damaging the back ?
    You just need a very well fitting screwdriver, I think it is 1.2mm, and to ensure that it is properly engaged before staring to twist. The top tip is to loosen them all and lift the case back onto a bottle cap or something similar with them all still in situ.

    Here's Caruso's video:

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  24. #24
    Master MartynJC (UK)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    You just need a very well fitting screwdriver, I think it is 1.2mm, and to ensure that it is properly engaged before staring to twist. The top tip is to loosen them all and lift the case back onto a bottle cap or something similar with them all still in situ.

    Here's Caruso's video:

    If got this on record in my blog posts - thanks Chris_in_the_UK:

    Repost - Omega X33 battery change pictorial

  25. #25
    Grand Master Saint-Just's Avatar
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    Thank you both.
    'Against stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain' - Schiller.

  26. #26
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    I've had two 2nd gens and it was my everyday watch for longer than any other watch. Great watches and I'd love to have one again someday.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    I'd love an original strap. I tend to have the Gen1 on a GasGasBones velcro or Kevlar. The bracelet has gone to a better home.
    I have a red coramide laying around somewhere. Decent condition, no buckle. Drop me a PM if that's of any use and I'll pop it in the mail.

  27. #27


    Superb watches - I also have a Gen 1. This one is just back from service and running at 3.6s per year!


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  28. #28
    Had my Gen I up for sale but a thinking a new strap may give it a new lease of life. Currently on the Ti bracelet but like all the fabric options I've seen. GASGasBones opens his doors again in April so may go for one of his NASA X-33 straps if still made.

    Regarding the OEM straps there are some cheaper red and green look a likes here -

    https://www.watchobsession.co.uk/pro...32613035769927
    Last edited by mylofitz; 24th February 2021 at 16:44.

  29. #29
    Grand Master Saint-Just's Avatar
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    Okay, a bit of a disappointment here.
    Last week I tried to lit up the watch, it did it briefly then stopped working and the seconds hand started to move in 5s increments, still keeping time, of course.
    As the last battery change was 2 years ago, my conclusion was that the battery was dying on me.
    I dutifully ordered a new one. It arrived this morning.

    I changed it successfully (which means I managed to avoid scratching the back to death and lose half of the screws).

    ...

    The seconds hand still moves in 5 seconds increments, and the backlight doesn't work

    I can think of 2 possibilities:
    1) the battery is too old. It was in a sealed pack, delivered this morning and I can see no indication of date on it
    2) the light module is gone, and that tricks the watch into thinking the battery is on its way out.

    Thoughts?
    'Against stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain' - Schiller.

  30. #30
    Master Caruso's Avatar
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    Definitely worth buying a new battery and try fitting that to see if it cures it.

    I'd go with a decent Renata, Varta or somesuch rather than an unknown brand, or an old brand not known for it's batteries e.g. the Kodak ones in the pound shop.

  31. #31
    Grand Master Saint-Just's Avatar
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    The new one is a Renata, in its original packaging
    'Against stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain' - Schiller.

  32. #32
    Grand Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    You didn't put the old battery back in, did you?

    I'd be inclined to try another battery, it's not unheard of for them to arrive duff. I also use Renata CR2320 lithium in mine.
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  33. #33
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    X-33s can be very flakey. I moved my Gen 2 on when I realised that a battery change involved the risk of losing one of the tiny expensive titanium screws every time and like above, a new cell doesn't always fix the 5 sec jump. It is always worth trying a different cell but I have read that there is a way to short or reset the movement to cure this but it has been a few years so I am afraid I can't recall the exact procedure.

    A nice piece for sure but pretty high maintenance, sort of like a hummer in that respect, eating batteries every 2 years.

  34. #34
    Grand Master Saint-Just's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    You didn't put the old battery back in, did you?

    I'd be inclined to try another battery, it's not unheard of for them to arrive duff. I also use Renata CR2320 lithium in mine.
    No, very helpfully the previous battery had a sticker on it.

    Non magnetic screws were a bugger, though...
    'Against stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain' - Schiller.

  35. #35
    Grand Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    No, very helpfully the previous battery had a sticker on it.

    Non magnetic screws were a bugger, though...
    You are supposed to take the sticker off.
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  36. #36
    Grand Master Saint-Just's Avatar
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    The sticker was a white little confetti with the date of the last battery change. I chickened out from doing it myself last time.
    'Against stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain' - Schiller.

  37. #37
    Grand Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    The sticker was a white little confetti with the date of the last battery change. I chickened out from doing it myself last time.
    Aha, I was thinking it was one of those safety ones that pretty much covers the negative terminal!

    I wonder how easy it is to get hold of replacement screws. I've not lost one yet in four battery changes but suspect luck will run out one day...
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  38. #38
    Grand Master Saint-Just's Avatar
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    Are there easily available replacement gasket? If not, do you lubricate it, and if yes, with what, please?
    'Against stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain' - Schiller.

  39. #39
    Master MartynJC (UK)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    Are there easily available replacement gasket? If not, do you lubricate it, and if yes, with what, please?
    Not sure. I don't plan to get my X-33 near water - so don't plan to lube when changing the battery. However, I may get mine serviced when the time comes as there is a fair bit of 'play' before the pushers come into action - dicernable and a little annoying.

  40. #40
    I think I had the same problem the last time I changed the battery on Gen 2 and got rather worried...but can't remember if I gave it another try or got a new battery. Actually I think I got a new battery as the "new" one I had used was one I'd had for a while in storage.

    You also have to be EXTRA careful while putting in the new battery so that it's perfectly "flat"/'aligned" if not the alarm will not ring. Same goes when tightening the screws to keep everything "flat".

  41. #41
    Grand Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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  42. #42
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    I use a silicone grease to lubricate the gasket. However the seal is push on rather than screw down, so it's less critical.

    I did lose a screw for mine and a replacement was £16 but that was pre-brexit. There are some for £20 on Ebay: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/GENUINE-O...W/183286093828

  43. #43
    Grand Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caruso View Post
    I use a silicone grease to lubricate the gasket. However the seal is push on rather than screw down, so it's less critical.

    I did lose a screw for mine and a replacement was £16 but that was pre-brexit. There are some for £20 on Ebay: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/GENUINE-O...W/183286093828
    Great info, thanks.
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  44. #44
    Master petethegeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    Giving the dial design a cockpit vibe is fine in my book. However using real bugs is possibly a touch too far. It does look good on the wrist though. Can I just confirm they are 45mm across?

  45. #45
    Grand Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by petethegeek View Post
    Giving the dial design a cockpit vibe is fine in my book. However using real bugs is possibly a touch too far. It does look good on the wrist though. Can I just confirm they are 45mm across?
    It is 45mm across the bulges. The bezel is 41.5mm. My wrists are a measly 175mm.
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  46. #46
    Master petethegeek's Avatar
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    Once again, thank you. I'm very slightly more generously endowed than you in that aspect and rapidly running out of reasons not to.

  47. #47
    Grand Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by petethegeek View Post
    Once again, thank you. I'm very slightly more generously endowed than you in that aspect and rapidly running out of reasons not to.
    De nada.

    It is worth bearing in mind that the Solar Impulse does not come with a bracelet, despite Omega selling it at the same price as the standard Skywalker. I've done a swap as I like the SI on Ti.

    It has a mass of 106g on the bracelet and 69g on a kevlar strap.
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